Woodstock MS Math Teacher Named CCSD 2018 Teacher of the Year!

Woodstock MS Math Teacher Named CCSD 2018 Teacher of the Year!

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Cherokee County School District 2018 Teacher of the Year Stephanie Vidrine with flowers during class midday at Woodstock Middle School.

Watch a video from the surprise presentation here.

Woodstock Middle School teacher Stephanie Vidrine shapes math lessons into stories that remain in students’ hearts and minds long after the equations are solved.

Her extraordinary gift for teaching her students, especially those who struggle with math, resulted in an equally impressive honor presented on Tuesday: Cherokee County School District’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

“Mathematics,” the 20-year teacher said, “is so much more than manipulating numbers and following procedures.  It is art, beauty, creativity, patterns and connections to other mathematical concepts and life experiences.”

The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year; school winners are selected by their peers.

Dr. Hightower gives Ms. Vidrine a congratulatory hug after the announcement that she will represent CCSD as its 2018 Teacher of the Year.

“We’re so proud of her,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower told a room full of Ms. Vidrine’s students after announcing their teacher’s honor. “She’s committed to you and what you do on a daily basis.”

Ms. Vidrine will be honored in November at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia and other community partners.  She also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.

A special new prize for CCSD’s Teacher of the Year was announced as part of Tuesday’s surprise presentation: Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton is giving Ms. Vidrine a one-year lease of the vehicle of her choice!  Already overwhelmed by the initial announcement of her new title, Ms. Vidrine was clearly delighted by the additional surprise.

Sales Associate Ed Denovellis, left, and General Manager David Booth present Stephanie Vidrine of Woodstock Middle School with a giant key while telling her that, as CCSD Teacher of the Year, she has won a one-year lease of the car of her choice from Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton.

“I’m going to park the van in the garage!” she said, with a laugh, as she received a giant glittering gold key to celebrate the gift.  She then turned to her students to thank them. “You guys are my heart and soul… you make me better.”

Ms. Vidrine, who is a two-time school-level Teacher of the Year having previously earned the honor at Etowah High School in 2001, discovered her passion as a middle school student.

Her eighth-grade pre-algebra teacher had looked her in the eye and said: “You’ll never be any good at math.”

Never say never.

Dr. Hightower tells the class about Ms. Vidrine’s qualities and accomplishments that made her stand out from CCSD’s 39 other Teacher of the Year school-level winners.

Ms. Vidrine dedicated the next three years of her studies to deeply understanding math and connected with an Algebra II teacher who believed in her. She earned a perfect score on her Algebra II exam and found her perfect career.

“From that point forward, I wanted to teach mathematics and provide for my students the opportunity to achieve and excel in mathematics no matter their previous level of performance,” said Ms. Vidrine, who went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education from the University of Georgia.

Her addition of storytelling to math concepts totals a successful combination for students, who appreciate her so much that they stay in touch long after they’ve advanced, graduated and even pursued their own careers in math.

“She teaches in a way that almost prevents you from forgetting,” one student shared. “Almost every unit she taught had a personal story to it… and every story she told always related back to what we were learning, and everyone got excited when she announced she had a story to tell us.”

Woodstock Middle School Principal David Childress adds his congratulations and accolades for a teary-eyed Ms. Vidrine during the surprise announcement.

Principal David Childress recruited Ms. Vidrine to Woodstock Middle School from Etowah High School, where he previously worked alongside her as a fellow math teacher.

“She has a love for teaching the students who often struggle in math,” he said. “Stephanie is a powerful ball of mathematical energy.”

The proof of her powers, he said, is in the numbers: all of her students earned proficient or better scores on their State exams, and pulled CCSD’s highest marks for performance growth.

The improvement comes from hard work – on her part and on the part of her students, like those who choose to attend daily remediation classes she volunteers to hold during lunch.

As one student puts it, her class is like a Dr. Seuss book: a story, a lesson, a delight.

“Her teaching is like no other,” she said. “She is a teacher who I will never forget.”

From left to right: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower poses with Cherokee County School District 2018 Teacher of the Year Stephanie Vidrine and Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton General Manager David Booth.

Dr. Hightower leads Ms. Vidrine’s class in applauding her selection as the CCSD 2018 Teacher of the Year.

David Booth, General Manager for Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton, adds to the surprise announcement by telling Ms. Vidrine she has won a one-year lease for the car of her choice at his dealership.


CCSD Announces School-Level Teacher of the Year Winners

Category : CCSD

Congratulations to the Cherokee County School District’s School Teachers of the Year winners!

At the start of every school year, each CCSD school is asked to select its own Teacher of the Year.  These school-level winners now are eligible for the honor of Cherokee County School District’s 2018 Teacher of the Year!

The Districtwide competition will be judged by a panel of community leaders based on applications submitted by the school-level winners.  The CCSD winner will be surprised in his or her classroom by the Superintendent of Schools this fall and will be honored, along with each school’s winner, at the 2018 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration in November.

The CCSD winner will be entered into the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.

2018 CCSD School Teachers of the Year

Lynda Frederickson, ACE Academy

Tasha Cox Stancil, Arnold Mill Elementary School

Holly Miller, Avery Elementary School

Renay Wigley, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy

Judy Eason, Bascomb Elementary School

Jennifer Haygood, Boston Elementary School

Laurie Maselli, CCSD Preschool Centers

Cathy Fitts, Canton ES STEM Academy

Heidi Sansone, Carmel Elementary School

Shannon Hemphill, Cherokee High School

Nicole Brookshire, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

Rebecca Heard, Clayton Elementary School

Chad Lanier, Creekland Middle School

Jason Hardin, Creekview High School

Mindee Calabrese, Dean Rusk Middle School

John Wilson, E.T. Booth Middle School

Brandon Grummer, Etowah High School

Kelly Wilkie, Free Home Elementary School

Janelle Haysman, Freedom Middle School

Mark Thompson, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy

Jennifer Bledsoe, Hickory Flat Elementary School

Valerie Wallace, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy

Angela Barnes, Indian Knoll Elementary School

Erin Myers, Johnston Elementary School

Amy Dickinson, Knox Elementary School

Danielle Kononen, Liberty Elementary School

Megan Mayfield, Little River Elementary School

Kirsten Hargadon, Macedonia Elementary School

Kathleen Burns, Mill Creek Middle School

Amanda Farmer, Mountain Road Elementary School

Heather Burgess, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy

Amberly Brown, R.M. Moore Elementary School

Amanda Sue Farist, River Ridge High School

Julie Geoghagan, Sequoyah High School

Dr. Kyle Shugart, Sixes Elementary School

Cassandra Fainter, Teasley Middle School

Kristen Irwin, Tippens Education Center

Carla Page, Woodstock Elementary School

Jamie Vogan, Woodstock High School

Stephanie Vidrine, Woodstock Middle School


Sequoyah HS Science Teacher Named CCSD 2017 Teacher of the Year!

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Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes, center, is congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, and Sequoyah Principal Elliott Berman.

Watch a video from the surprise presentation:

When Brian Carnes reflects on his successes, he humbly jokes: “not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

“Chicken farmer” has been a nickname for the poultry industry leader-turned-science teacher at Sequoyah High School since he made the career change 12 years ago.

Today, Nov. 4, 2016, he earned a new nickname: Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Or “best chicken farmer teacher ever” for short.

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Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah High School.

“I was very surprised and excited just be to named Sequoyah High School’s Teacher of the Year… it’s such an excellent school.  I know all of the great teachers we have in Cherokee County, so this,” the Cherokee County native said after being surprised with the CCSD honor by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, “this is just kind of overwhelming to me.”

The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year.  The school winners are selected by their peers.  Mr. Carnes will be honored in December at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia.  He also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.

“He teaches with a lot of heart,” Dr. Hightower said, as he congratulated Mr. Carnes, who he calls “a super-teacher,” in front of one of his AP (Advanced Placement) Chemistry classes.  “Besides having tough academics — I know he pushes you — he cares about you.  I know he helps you all along the way.  And that’s what we’re about.”

Mr. Carnes, who attended Buffington Elementary School and graduated from Cherokee High School where he was active in FFA, began his career in the poultry industry.  With degrees in agriculture (bachelor’s from University of Georgia) and quality systems technology (master’s from Southern Polytechnic State University), Mr. Carnes succeeded in the industry for 15 years.

But his heart began to whisper of another plan for him: teaching children to love science.

He talked to mentors, like his former agriculture teacher Dr. Dwight Pullen, and his family and friends.  And then he flew the coop.

Principal Elliot Berman said he’s proud to say he hired Mr. Carnes in 2004.  Mr. Carnes began teaching special education, then moved into science and then took on AP Chemistry.  Along the way, Mr. Carnes earned certifications, endorsements and awards… like the Delta Kappa Gamma International Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, STAR Teacher and, last year, the valedictorian picked him as her “outstanding teacher” for CCSD recognition.

“Mr. Carnes has taught some of the most challenged to some of the most gifted, yet they were taught with the same compassion,” Principal Berman said. “Positively impacting lives is what Mr. Carnes was destined to do, and that is what he continues to do here at Sequoyah.”

Not only is Mr. Carnes beloved for the care he shows students in the classroom as their teacher and outside the classroom in roles such as Student Government Association sponsor, he also delivers when it comes to making challenging materials comprehensible and guiding students to success on demanding AP exams.

“He honestly does care about his students and their grades and wants to develop a relationship with them,” junior Zach Davis said.  “In my opinion, he really is the most deserving teacher.”

Mr. Carnes and his wife, Pam, President & CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, have two daughters, Sarah, a Sequoyah HS and University of Georgia graduate now studying for a master’s at Georgia Tech, and Rebekah, a Sequoyah HS junior.  In addition to his many roles at school, Mr. Carnes also has coached his daughters’ softball teams and volunteers with his church, Canton First United Methodist.

“My most notable accomplishments are witnessed through the many students I have impacted throughout my career,” he said.  “Each example is meaningful whether it be a special education student who overcame great obstacles to become a productive member of society or my many AP students who have been inspired to pursue careers in the sciences as doctors, engineers or physicists; not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Sequoyah HS chemistry teacher Brian Carnes with the news he is CCSD’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

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Sequoyah HS Chemistry teacher Brian Carnes, center, with AP Chemistry students shortly after he is surprised with the announcement he has been named CCSD’s Teacher of the Year for 2017.

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Mr. Carnes’s AP Chemistry class gives a round of applause for their outstanding teacher.

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Mr. Carnes hugs his wife, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Pam Carnes, after the surprise announcement.

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The Carnes family celebrates his award; from left, Sarah, Brian, Rebekah and Pam.


CCSD Announces School-Level Teacher of the Year Winners

Congratulations to the Cherokee County School District’s School Teacher of the Year winners!

At the start of every school year, each CCSD school is asked to select its own Teacher of the Year.  These school-level winners now are eligible for the honor of Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year!

The Districtwide competition will be judged by a panel of community leaders based on applications submitted by the school-level winners.  The CCSD winner will be surprised in his or her classroom by the Superintendent of Schools this fall and will be honored, along with each school’s winner, at a Teacher of the Year Banquet in December.  The banquet is sponsored by CCSD Partners including Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia.

The CCSD winner will be entered into the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.

2017 CCSD School Teachers of the Year

Stephen Schroter, ACE Academy

Terry Chadwick, Arnold Mill ES

Ta-Tanisha Hill-Guy, Avery ES

Chessa McGinnis, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy

Bettina Miller, Bascomb ES

Scott Lambert, Boston ES

Darby Bewley, CCSD Preschool Centers

David Cornn, Canton ES STEM Academy

Dianne Bussey, Carmel ES

Clyde Lowery, Cherokee HS

Lauren Abrams, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

Andrea Ingham, Clayton ES

Debby Amoss, Creekland MS

Kerri Schmitt, Creekview HS

Jacqueline Allen, Dean Rusk MS

Daniele Deneka, E.T. Booth MS

Debbie Rufa, Etowah HS

Kristi Townley, Free Home ES

Brandi Shook, Freedom MS

Ashley Mounts, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy

Erika Graves, Hickory Flat ES

Jana Cervone, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy

Shelly Brumbelow, Indian Knoll ES

Michael L’Esperance, Johnston ES

Tricia Weathers, Knox ES

Maria McCall, Liberty ES

Maureen Boll, Little River ES

Tenille Turner, Macedonia ES

Andrew McEntyre, Mill Creek MS

Tina Rogers, Mountain Road ES

Mary Kenney, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy

Ada Rogers, R.M. Moore ES

Joel Roth, River Ridge HS

Brian Carnes, Sequoyah HS

Lori Pelkey, Sixes ES

Dr. Jennifer Reynolds, Teasley MS

Elaine Warner, Tippens Education Center

Emily Spira, Woodstock ES

Julie Crowe, Woodstock HS

B.J. Mazza, Woodstock MS